More 1960s Featherstone Close Wars rules rebooted as Sci-Fi by The Wargaming Pastor on his Death Zap Blog

Another Featherstone Close Wars related blog post, by the Wargaming Pastor on his Death Zapp blog, crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors Blog:

Scout Wide Games Rules Ideas # 1


Alan Gruber (Duchy of Tradgardland blog) and I have been independently reading the old scouting book Wide Games (1933) with ideas of how these outdoor games might translate into tabletop and garden games with figures.

LBB30 Boy Scout from the Little Britons / Shiny Toy Soldiers 42mm range.

As with any set of gaming rules, the basics have to be set out – Movement, Melee, Missile Firing,  Morale, that sort of thing.

Victory Conditions –  A lot of this scenario stuff is set out for us in the detailed briefings in Wide Games.

1 figure = 1 Scout.

1 figure equals 1 Scout.

A patrol is made up of 8 scouts including patrol leader and bugler.

A Scout at one early point could be a boy or girl. In the early days (1907-1910) Girl Scouts would have undertaken these Wide Games, possibly even alongside or against Boy Scout Patrols. Girl  Guiding from 1910 carried this Wide Games tradition on.

Four spare Boy Scouts are now Girl Scouts and Guides … figures almost finished, almost painted.

Then there is the challenge of movement.

Movement Rates

Depending what ground scale and figure scale that you are working with, you would need to set out a suitable movement rate of X inches, hexes or squares per turn.

Basic Walking Pace in Open Country – X inches or X hexes

Scout’s Pace – Walking Pace x 50%, so X x 0.5 per inches or hexes

Scout’s Pace is a curious hybrid of ‘walk 20 paces, run 20 paces’, designed to sustainably go faster and further without being too puffed to pass on messages.

Boy Scouts came from many nations … again, based and almost painted.

How Terrain, Weather and Time of Day Affects Movement 

Wide Games and Scouting For Boys often notes off-road terrain as Thick Or Open:

Thick Country takes twice as long to traverse. Half the normal walking or scouts Pace of  X inches or hexes

Tracks – moves on paths have X inch bonus.

Open Country – normal Walking or Scout’s Pace

Walking On the Road – Normal walking pace or Scout’s Pace.

Bicycle on Road – 2 x Scout’s Pace. Edwardian bicycles probably wouldn’t go off road well.

Uphill – movement reduce by half. Downhill normal pace.

Fog and mist – half normal pace, recuced visibility. Scout’s Pace unavailable in fog and mist.

Night-time – half normal pace, reduced visibility. Scout’s Pace unavailable at night.

Snow and Ice – half normal pace. Scout’s Pace unavailable on snow and ice – Increased risk of accidents.

Bogs and marshland can be deemed uncrossable or at half speed.

All fields of standing crops must be placed out of bounds.



Stealth Moves?

Speed of movement would vary with stealth  and cover / ground.

Stalking / Quiet / Concealed Movement Pace – half normal pace. Scout’s Pace unavailable in stalking mode.

If you have the One rate for quiet moving through a wood etc, then the alternative Scout’s Pace  for pursuit / rapid noisy movement.

‘Thick country’ is distinguished as taking twice as long to cross from ‘open country’ in terms of movement. Obviously roads would have faster pace / movement.

Two Girl Scouts capture the single Boy Scout … to be escorted back to base.

Resolving Capture and Combat

It takes two scouts to capture another enemy scout and take him or her blindfold  captive back to their base.

‘Vikings’ (Wide Game 1, a Flag Raid scenario) mentions that the aim should be success “by strategy rather than force, so not more than two go together at one time and it is regarded as shameful for more than two to attack one man.”

One scout however can take the wool ‘life’ of an enemy scout, effectively removing them from the game. The scout who loses a wool life can take no active part until he or she has  returned by the most immediate route back to the (neutral) Ambulance base, where a new life is restored. A scout who has lost a wool ‘life’ can be indicated by a curtain ring or other token.

How this affects points is mentioned at the end.

Range Weapons

In the Scouting for Boys examples of Wide Games, the Snow Fort scenario sees Snowballs being used as ammunition.

Whiting Balls or wooden darts with blunt ends marked in chalk are also recommended. Hits on enemy scouts would be clearly visible to an umpire.

Weapons Range: X inches or hexes / squares,  to be decided, further than normal walking pace?

Some of these sections come not from Wide Games but straight from Donald Featherstone’s Close Wars simple rules (appendix to War Games).

One dice thrown for each scout firing –  6 scores a hit.

If the scout firer is undercover whilst the scout target is in the open, then a 5 or 6 will secure a hit.

Featherstone Savings Throws

Each Scout casualty has the chance of only being judged lightly wounded and fighting on. Each Scout casualty has a dice thrown for him, a 4, 5 or 6 means that he is only lightly wounded and carries on. If the scout casualty is under cover, then he or she is saved by 3, 4, 5 or 6.


If scouts come into contact (adjacent squares etc / bases touching) then some form of Melee ensues. Some Hand-to-Hand Fighting does take place in early scouting ranging from Jujitsu, boxing, Cornish or Celtic wrestling and quarter staffs / staves, all permitted.

Kaptain Kobold’s simple dice no cards version of the Parry / Lunge duelling. Dice used to mark health or life points left. Steve Weston’s duelling Mexican Peasants in 54mm.

Scout versus Scout with each man having one dice throw, the highest number wins. The losing Scout who loses a ‘wool life’ must return to base camp / ambulance camp to restore his life.


Quarter Staves / staff fighting can take place using Gerard De Gre duelling rules. Each Scout has so many life or melee points, which reduces with each hit.


Melee Concealed Number System

An alternative Melee system from Wide Games no. 3 – Staffs  – has a hidden numbering system, 1 to 8 being allocated to each patrol and concealed from the enemy  (maybe on their base). The number was only revealed when challenged – sometimes finding out that you have challenged a higher number too late, if you are low numbered! This solves the taking of the wool life, based on whether Scout is higher or lower.

Scout No. 7 beats the lower number Scout No. 4 from a rival patrol.

Interestingly in Scouting for Boys (1908),  BP suggests Patrols have regular  numbers: Patrol Leader 1 with whistle, Corporal 2, scouts 3 and 4, scouts 5 and 6, scouts 7 and 8 working in pairs. No mention of the bugler!

As mentioned in Staffs (Wide Games no. 3) a kind of wild card that no 1 (patrol leader) can take number 7, so is both strong and vulnerable.

Wild Card – here patrol leader No. 1 trumps the higher number Scout No 7.

These could be inscribed on the figure bases of scout models.

Morale and Scouts Honour 

“Camp raiding is strictly prohibited” (Rule 340)  – against Scout’s Honour. Scout’s Honour could be an interesting alternative scoring system or points system. For example:

  • Points are deducted from a patrol or Scout for each Scout being captured or losing a “life”.
  • Points are gained per patrol or Scout for attaining another’s wool life, captive or token object.

Morale (health or energy points) could be boosted by good turn cards or weather. Wet weather, lack of food, cold etc might affect a Scout’s combat effectiveness if using RPG type cards. Still to be worked out …

Chance Cards or Event Cards – still to be worked out.

Commonly used in Wide Games, further change of instructions or note of wounded casualties were issued as letters opened after so many turns, hampering or altering the briefing to each patrol.

The delaying envelopes opened at set times to slow down or change the missions for three teams of Scout “Polar Explorers” (Cordon Breaking; Wide Game 6 Polar Dash)

These are some initial rules notes ideas … to be tried, discarded, continued and added to.

The Duchy of Tradgardland Scouts

Alan, as Chief Scout of the D of T Scouts, seen here:

added some new suggested interesting ideas that he is working on:

Re. Movement:  Could X be measured (if not using grids) by a scale scout pole, X being the length of a scout pole?
I am working on encounter tables. I wondered [about] a random rout speed (if chased by bull or dog for example), throw two d6 and that is the distance to be moved.
I also wondered about stopping for a turn when climbing walls or barbed wire fences or it costs half a move to cross.
Alan and I both thought of some kind of Skirmish / RPG type character cards, as we are only dealing with small numbers of a couple of patrols of eight Scouts each, not huge battalions.
A range of hair and skin colours for the Boy and Girl Scouts when painting might help link a figure  to these character cards with suitable Edwardian to 1950s nicknames: Ginger, Carrots, Snowy, etc.
Alan suggests of this individual cards: 
Allow scouts to be given “traits” before the game, some positives and some negatives.
For example faster / slower,  adding to or taking away from base movement rates. Also ability to move stealthily or spot.
Traits come be rolled for randomly, say throw 9 or above on 2d 6 and choose a trait for that particular scout.
Limited ammunition of say three shots only and perhaps the option then to return to base to get more.
Lots of interesting game ideas here from Alan ranging from varied bound distances to limited ammunition (with the exception of snow balls!)
Good fun,  both collaborating on and experimenting on rules apart. 

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN (1970s Cub Scout, Bronze Arrow, retired) on 15 May 2019. 

Simplest Featherstone rules ever?


This very short back of postcard  rules featured in a very short chapter on Wargames by Donald Featherstone in Henry Harris’ book How to Go Collecting Model Soldiers, first published by PSL in 1969.

They seem a great distillation of his own rules and H.G. Wells, presumably as good for 54mm military models / conversions  as for smaller figures.

“Simple, isn’t it?” as Donald Featherstone puts it.


Posted by Man of TIN, June 2016.